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Scratchbuilding Merchant Sailing Ships - A Dying Art

Scratchbuilding Merchant Sailing Ships

A Dying Art


Robert A. Wilson FRSA

This is an e-book.     It is available by direct, automatic download via this site, upon payment of £2.49 via Paypal.   VAT will be added to this figure for buyers in EEC countries outside the UK.

It contains 48 images and the text is   8,917 words in length.   If printed out, it will make a booklet A4 size, with 30 pages.

It is specifically written for use in computers only, that have Acrobat Reader installed (that is practically all of them world-wide).

It can be transferred to e-readers such as Kindles, Nooks and Kobos, but the text and images would be too small to be of much use!

Occasionally, payment may go through, but the e-book does not download.     If this happens, please contact me at: and I will send it direct.


            As the second half of the second decade of the 21st Century approaches, and I look back over

the years, I have come to the inevitable conclusion that this fascinating hobby is now in a terminal decline!

            Having searched the Internet high and low for fellow enthusiasts and builders of merchant sailing ships, I have more-or-less drawn a blank.   Over 90 per cent of the hobby seems to be dominated by kits of warships, mainly of the Napoleonic era.       Forums abound on where to purchase kits, how to interpret plans and assemble the models.     The resultant models can be very impressive indeed, but they do have their disadvantages.      They are usually large and expensive and confined to a small number of prototypes.     Looking at a recent list of kits and prices, I see that kits of HMS Victory can cost up to, and beyond £700, whilst the ever-popular tea clipper Cutty Sark kit can cost around about £300 or more!     Asking people why they prefer kits, I am often told that they simply do not have the time to scratch build.     But on asking how much time they would expect to spend building a kit, the answer is usually in months, or even years.     When such models are completed however, it doesn’t matter how perfect they are, because by nature of the fact they are built from kits, they do not have any scarcity or historical value because there are so many of them around!

            This e-book seeks to introduce prospective new miniature scratch builders to the joys, ease and convenience of building at miniature scales.       The cost of materials is minimal and the cost of a few essential tools does not come anywhere near the cost of a good quality kit.

            Although the e-book is not fully comprehensive, I have covered the main points, some of them in fair detail, showing how things like rigging miniatures with wire rather than twine is considerably easier and less time-consuming that by using conventional methods.     No knots are used anywhere in the rigging process, and with the special methods described, it is possible to rig the model described, the barque Marjory Glen, (with 22 sails) in about 21 hours.   The total building time for the Marjory Glen amounted to 52 ½ hours, and that included making the sea base, display case and carrying case.   I always time the work with a stopwatch and if I stop work for any reason, I stop the watch.

            I have included a complete pictorial record of the building of the Marjory Glen at 32’=1”

            The entire build was spread over exactly 30 days, with an average of 1.74 hours per day spent working on it!

More examples of my models may be viewed at:

You will get a PDF (4MB) file

£ 2.49

£ 2.49

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